Friday, November 18, 2011

Piece by Peace

Sometimes scraps happen. Well, if you are a quilter they happen a lot! I have several baskets for scraps and this particular one is all strip scraps - you know, the kind that happen when you are cutting strips and you make an oops and it's not exactly straight, or the kind that happen when you don't have enough fabric left to cut the exact size you want for a certain project, and of course, there's those strips that come from trimming the over sized backing off a completed quilt that's been done on the longarm.

Strip scraps. Strip therapy. Yep. That's what I needed I took photos to share my therapy journey with you...

I didn't really have a plan when I started. Truly I just needed to hear the hum of my sewing machine to make me happy. I've done foundation flip and sew type string quilts but that's not what I wanted to do. That requires a lot of pressing, generally with each added strip and who wants to do that when all I wanted to do was sew!

So sew I did! It didn't matter what width the strips were or even if they were a tad wonky, I just wanted to sew. I discovered that most of my strips were full width of fabric, with a few odd sizes mixed in, hum...perhaps by cutting them in half and making them 20 something inches instead of 40 something inches I'd be able to vary the placement better... It was then that I came up with an idea to us my Go Cutter, but I'm getting ahead of myself...

I don't think you can really see it in the above photo, but under the first strip there is a neat little gadget called The Strip Stick that I highly recommend! I purchased this tool at a local quilt show and have found it most useful in my pressing - it's got a raised surface that makes it easy to press the seams open and flat! You owe it to yourself to view their video (but it can wait until after you finish reading the blog - smile). One thing I liked about it was I could save pressing until the end of the strip strata...a bonus on a day I just wanted to sit and sew with little interruptions.

I hinted above that I had a design inspiration while sewing to use my Go!Cutter - I decided on which die to use and determined that I needed my strip set to be at least 9 inches wide and 18 inches long...this also would work well with the smaller strips in the scrap basket, the strips didn't have to be only vertical or only horizontal, just 9 x 18... so the first set was sewn, pressed and loaded into the Go!Cutter...

And this is what came out the other side! (minus the trimmings of course)

Instant gratification! Well, almost, it's still got to be put together - but it was pretty exciting! So I tried out another strip set (notice that the strips truly weren't even, which adds to the charm wouldn't you say?)

And yes, all the trimming away with the Go!Cutter left me with still more scraps...but I determined that I'd be able to "let go" and recycle these to the studio trash can with little or no guilt. Some of the bigger scraps I've kept for future projects.

Keep in mind, Pixxie, my professional quilt model is only 6 pounds 6 ounces so that's not too much guilt in the collection of scraps next to her...

As I was merrily sewing and cutting away my mind was busy thinking of the background fabric I would need to complete my little therapy quilt....every now and then I'd hop up from the machine and go audition a fabric...there were lots of colors to choose from and I knew from previous experiences that I could make this quilt be whatever color I wanted. If I chose a yellow background it would read yellow no matter that there were multicolored scraps.... It wasn't an easy choice as I did have a lot to choose from in my's been a while since I've made a purple quilt so I began to look on the purple shelf for possibilities...

It may be hard to see unless you click on the photo to enlarge - but I chose what I like to call a "dizzy print". You have to admit, it does have lots of movement!

Not only that, but it sorta fit with my therapy....seems I needed peace in my life because things do have a way of getting dizzy and stressful. The dizzy fabric represented my mood at the time and the peace came from being frugal with my strip scraps and the peacefulness of the hum of my machine while listening to my praise and worship music on the iPod....

This quilt isn't a quilt yet, only a few of the blocks are actually pieced, but it's on the design wall with the goal of piecing a little here and there as I need more "sew therapy" during this busy time in my life.

Piecefully yours,
karen o

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You. Isaiah 26:3

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

As promised: Quilt Market & Quilt Festival 2011

Oh the places you'll go and the people you'll meet!

In years past I've been a roving reporter sharing with my online friends and family my view of the annual Houston International Quilt Market and Quilt Festival - and this year the exception is the majority of "my view" is from my booth at Festival...couldn't resist this photo of a passer-by-er ... a wonderful example of a good pack mule!
what I don't know is if his wife went wild purchasing Christmas gifts or if he was restocking a booth...either way, I'd say he's a jolly good fellow wouldn't you?!?!

I love this time of year! My friend Trish and I look forward to making the daily commute north into Houston for this annual extravaganza. I don't know how many years Trish has attended, but I've been going since 2000 - that's when this Texan/Tennessean moved back to the H. Town area... In 2004 I began going to Market in addition to Festival, the trade show for those with wholesale licenses. In 2008 I became a vendor at Festival with A1 Quilting Machines - so my wandering of the isles at Festival is no more....BUT! Trish and I make up for it during Market the weekend prior to Festival....

The isle ways at Market aren't as crowded. The vendors offer a lot of hands on demos as they are marketing their newest gadget, book or patterns to shop owners. I was having so much fun that I forgot to take photos (sigh) But here's Trish at one booth's "make and take"...

Fun stuff wouldn't you agree? Since I'm not a retail or online shop a lot of items were just eye candy for me - a time to be inspired and learn new things and take a peek at the upcoming fabric lines from all the major manufacturers.

I do however have my favorite vendors...because I teach beginning piecing and fun patterns in both my studio and area quilt shops I always make a bee-line to Aunties Two Patterns - boy did I buy out the booth! I can't wait to make some shop samples - check out their rag rug pattern and just one of my favorites - the breezy weave bag... this bag lady is going to be stylin' in 2012 that's for sure!

And what market venture would be complete without stocking up on thread for the longarm (and piecing). Bob at Superior Threads always has a well stocked booth and that's generally where all the longarm guys and gals gather during market...this year was no exception. I stocked up on Rainbows and the new Omni line. Fun fun colors!

During Festival I visited the Fil-Tec booth where I purchase my Magna-Glide prewounds and met up with Dusty Farrell at the YLI booth where he was introducing his new line of thread...Yep, longarm quilters invest a lot in thread!

I think if you click on the above photo collage that it will become larger in your least I hope so. I'm trying to share a lot of photos in a little amount of space so I hope this works for ya'll.

I've got things a little jumbled sharing vendor photos from Market and Festival mixed together but oh well... To get back into the chronological order of things - first things first! Market is not only a time for Trish and I to purchase things for our businesses but it's sorta a reunion with all our quilting friends, and a time to celebrate!

The first person I ran into at Market was Tom Russell and we had a bit of celebrating to do! The new book Lone Stars III, A Legacy of Texas Quilts 1936-2011 was released and his quilt is on page 3oo and one that I quilted was on page 248. Woo-hoo! I didn't learn until after the fact that there was a reception for those included in the book, I didn't get the I missed the wine and cheese but I've still got my name in the book and that's what counts!

Did I mention that Market/Festival is a reunion! Oh my! I didn't take enough photos! Not only did I get to visit with local friends but I actually met up with several "facebook" friends and friends from longarm lists and blogville friends, and even long lost friends from high school! What fun to get to give and receive hugs - I think I have sore face muscles from so much grinnin'

All too soon Market was over and it was time to set up the A1 Quilting Machines booth for Festival. I do hope you can click on this and see the close ups of the beautiful quilts I borrowed from award winning quilters Mark Sherman from Florida and Clem Buzick from North Dakota.

Here's a close up of Mark's quilts, and "me 'n Mark"

If you have never been to the Houston show you can't imagine just how big it really is! This is a view from an upper floor window. I have no idea the square footage of the show nor the number of the vendors, but in the past I do know the show boasts of over 56 thousand attendees! Truly a quilter's paradise! And plenty of other things to tempt those non-quilters too! This photo is not even half of the hall - the isles were numbered 100, 200 all the way to 2000 - so it's TEXAS BIG!

One of my favorite things is getting to introduce people to the joys of longarm quilting. Many have never seen nor had their hands on a longarm - that's why we bring them to the shows, to allow people to try them out and see if this is something they might be interested in....many come to the show with an agenda to test drive all the major brands and then make a decision on which longarm is best for them. We welcomed many new A1 quilters to the family this past weekend!

A real blessing to me this year was having my A1 customers, or my "A1 family" as I call them, assist me in the booth. Special thanks to Trish, Dwain, Ida, Lou Ann, Ellen, Vonnie and Janice for being so wonderful with customers...I received some good feedback on them as well as comments from them concerning the experience...

From a future customer on our feedback form:

... this is the first time I am SERIOUS about making a long-arm happen for me. You'll be hearing from me and that is largely due to the warm greeting you and the other reps (and customers!) gave me during the multiple stops at the show booth this weekend. I've now sewed on about everything - I want your machine. It's the one that wins hands down for control, smooth motion and value overall...and I've LOOKED!Cheers!

From my customers who worked the booth:

I had a ball helping and would love to do it again along with all the other fun helpers! It always amazes me what all you learn even when just enjoying the A1 family at a show. Karen thanks so much for asking all of us to help.

... thank you for the opportunity to work in the booth and tell more people about how great the A-1 is. To be able to say, "I'm not a dealer, just a very happy customer using the best longarm. Just try all of the other longarms and you will not find a smoother running machine." Visiting with Stewart and (others) was a plus also.

From my one of our new customers:

It was so nice to meet you and all the other A-1 quilters. I feel like I have found a family! Everyone was so nice and friendly. I am very excited and looking forward to getting my new machine!

This is what makes those long days worth it that's for sure! I am so blessed to have the best machine out there, the best "boss" Stewart Plank, and the best customers!

But in reality, the highlight of my week wasn't seeing my name in print or my quilt in the exhibit, it wasn't the reunion with friends or meeting online friends in person, or even being among all the "famous people" of the quilting world or introducing new quilters to the was a special visit on the last day of the show...

...with my mom! This was the first time she'd attended the Houston International Quilt Show and got to see first hand what I'm so passionate about! Thanks mom, for your continued love and support!

Before we knew it the quilt show was over. We were joined by Trish's husband Frank and my hubby Johnny to help tear down the booth....looks a little different doesn't it? I've always loved those behind the scene photos!

SO here's the final parting shot from my full-time A-team volunteers Trish and Dwain...and yes, those are bags under our eyes - we are tired but most happy! It was a great Market/Festival - I'm still digging out and sorting through all the wonderful things I came home with from Market and busy answering emails from new customers and future customers who want to be put on a mailing list. OH! and I almost forgot! I was totally blown away by having some folks come to the booth to inquire about my quilting services - thank you to my fellow vendor friends who passed along my contact information! I'm looking forward to working on some very special quilts in the near future!

I'll sign off with this parting shot...taken the next morning on my walk to the bay....

Karen O Needs Your Help!

I'm interrupting my plans to blog about the recent Houston International Quilt Market and Festival to ask a HUGE FAVOR of all my blog friends.....

Background: My new daughter in law (January 2011) recently became a Mary Kay Consultant. As any good mother-in-law would do, I'm supporting her business. Funny thing is, I was actually looking into the Mary Kay line and considering changing when she became involved with this company,so the timing was perfect for me.

When Alena asked if I'd participate in a makeover contest I said "Absolutely" who can't use a makeover!! And the opportunity to have a complete makeover in New York!

So here's the favor! The first phase of the contest is determined by popular vote. The voting began Nov 1 and goes through Nov 10....and of course I was involved in Quilt Market and I'm needing to make up the lost time by soliciting votes.

Once you click on this link you will find hundreds of thousands of women all vying for the same grand prize - the chance for a make over in New York City! At the top right of the page there is a search box, type in Karen O and this page pops up.

They are real tricky, sometimes I'm on the right and sometimes my humbling photos are on the left....Above I'm the one in the purple on the right...

SEE! This quilter could really use a makeover! You can vote 5 times PER EMAIL ADDRESS per day. Hurry, there's only two days left!

If you are on facebook share the link with the following comment:

"Help this quilter get a makeover, type in Karen O in the search box and vote for the one in purple, 5 times a day per email through 11/10"

I would truly appreciate all the help from my quilting friends and all their friends. I think it would be a blast to take my new daughter-in-law on a trip with me to New York - and it would be worth the humbling photos to get there!

Tomorrow I share about the Quilt Show - so go vote and stay tuned!

karen o in Texas!